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Opinion

Opinion: Democrats have another target — possible links between the NRA and Russian meddlers

NRA shows signs of decline, even in Trump’s America
President Trump speaks at the NRA annual meetings in Dallas in May 2018.
(Smiley N. Pool / TNS)

Congressional Democrats cast a wide net as part of their investigations of pretty much all things Trump, as my colleague Michael McGough wrote on Monday. But the sweep of documents also targets the National Rifle Assn., which has been linked to possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

This could get interesting.

The NRA spent more than $30 million to help get Trump elected, and another $20 million on six Senate races in which five of the Republicans they backed won.

But wait! There’s more!
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The FBI reportedly is investigating whether the NRA got some of that money from Russians, and worked with Russians who reportedly cozied up with the gun-rights group.

So what documents did the Democrats ask the NRA to provide (which can be followed by a subpoena if the organization doesn’t comply)? A whole bunch of things, including:

  • Documents relating to development of the Republican platform for the election, including references to arming the Ukraine government in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea.
  • Attempts to provide or obtain a range of things tied to the election, including “voter data, polling information, political ad targeting, voter registration rolls, social media data, and campaign or party e-mails.”
  • Discussion of U.S. sanctions against Russia between June 16, 2015, and Jan. 20, 2017, involving Trump or 14 other people (at least six of whom have been charged or pleaded guilty to federal charges arising from the Mueller probe — sorry, “witch hunt”).

But wait! There’s more!
In fact, the new letter seeking documents and other information is just the latest in a series of congressional investigations that have ensnared the NRA in a range of controversies, all tied in one way or another to Russia, the 2016 election, or both.

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Enter the Fray: First takes on the news of the minute »

It’s a mess, but the folks at the Trace have put together a running update of the various inquiries — something worth bookmarking.

All of this comes at a time when the NRA’s political influence seems to be ebbing a bit, even though it still — much like organized labor — can mobilize supporters to back or oppose specific candidates.

As the NRA flounders, gun control advocates are getting stronger and landing some wins — including recently getting the House to pass a measure expanding and toughening required background checks before a gun sale.

But the true test on that one will be in the Senate — and the White House. But maybe these probes, and the gun rights group’s growing financial woes, will distract the NRA enough to let a little sanity seep into Congress.

In the meantime, let’s see what the investigations uncover.


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